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Van - Itinerant Worker's, circa 1940s Object Reg. No: HT 8184

Summary:
Itinerant worker's travelling living van or cabin (also know as a 'drover's van'), built in the 1940s by Mr Frank Rockliff, near Berrigan, New South Wales.

The cabin is constructed from a timber frame with corrugated iron cladding covering both the walls and roof. Timber for the frame was milled from Murray Pine grown on a neighbouring property called 'The Valley', owned by Bob Shand. The chassis frame, wheels and forecarriage were adapted from the remains of an old Massey-Harris header harvester. Blacksmithing work to reshape the harvester frame for the living van was undertaken by Frank Rockliff himself, with the assistance of his wife, Edna. It was one of a great number of similar simple living vans or "mobile homes" built and used on farms throughout the Riverina during the 1930s to the 1950s.

In the early years the van was used at various locations about the Rockliffs' property as living quarters by farm workers engaged in tasks such as fencing or shearing who did not own their own car and thus were unable to travelling home every night. Subsequently it housed a kerosene refrigerator, chicken brooder, saddlery store and as a child's cubby house. When the Rockliffs' children grew up it became the 'teenager leaving home premises under age illicit smoking venue and general store [room]'. It also saw service in the mid 1950s as the first kitchen on the Rockliffs' new property called 'The Willows'.

Jack Lee added the contents of the van after he acquired it from the Rockliffs, using typical 'making do' bush furniture and furnishing of the type that might typically have been since in a living van such as this, circa 1940s. Several of the pieces of furniture demonstrate considerable ingenuity being made from recycled materials like old kerosene boxes and kerosene tins. Associated items from the content of the van are identified in the Related Records field.
Description:
Timber-framed with corrugated-iron cladding. The chassis frame, wheels and forecarriage were adapted from the remains of an old Massey-Harris header harvester. Contents includes iron bed, small fire place & chimney, recycled kerosene tin chest of drawers and dish washing troughs.
Statement Of Significance:
This is a remarkable piece of rural ingenuity. It is in excellent condition and offers great potential to tell stories about rural live and living conditions, particularly those relating to travelling seasonal harvest workers & shearers.
Discipline: Technology
Dimensions: 3420.00 cm (Height), 3420.00 cm (Width), 4940.00 cm (Length)

More information

Tagged with: housing, itinerant workers, header harvesters, accommodation, living vans
Themes this item is part of: Sustainable Futures Collection
Primary Classification: AGRICULTURE & RURAL LIFE
Secondary Classification: Working Life - Itinerant
Tertiary Classification: accommodation
Manufacturer: Massey-Harris Co. Ltd (M-H)

Manufacturer of chassis frame, wheels & forecarriage, which used recycled component from an old Massey-Harris.
Maker: Mr Frank Rockliff, Berrigan, Southern Riverina, New South Wales, Australia, circa 1940s

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